Serious gamers, aka the “Hardcore”, have displayed a growing trend to look down on people who play casual PC games, usually something from the Flash oeuvre. They sneer at the thought of being considered in the same category as these puddle-deep players, which is unfortunate, because it’s not only the past of PC gaming, but a large chunk of the future as well. While PC games offer unparalleled depth and graphics and controls, a lot of folks just haven’t kept up with the curve. They want something simple, something addictive, something that offers quick, gratifying fun. And I have no problem with that — you see, as much as I love my complex MMOs and RPGs, sometimes I just want to lean back in my chair and play a game solely with a mouse that exists solely in a browser.
I’m addicted to the Tower Defense subgenre, and my wife curses me for also getting her hooked on these games. There’s just something primally satisfying about laying out a good defense and watching little whatevers try to get past it. It’s part strategy and part show, and I’m always on the hunt for newer, better TD titles.
Some of my perennial favorites include:
- Desktop Tower Defense — This title’s been the king of the mountain for a while now, and for good reason. You not only lay out a balanced defense against creeps with towers, but unlike many TD games, your towers *ARE* the maze. Creating a twisty, turny maze that keeps the creeps exposed to fire for as long as possible is the main challenge here.
- Bloons Tower Defense 3 — The Bloons series mixes two awesome elements into the TD genre: monkeys and balloons (or “bloons”). Instead of creeps with health bars, you’re faced with a stream of balloons, most of which have other balloons nested inside (like Russian dolls). Let me tell you, popping balloons never, ever gets old, especially when you’re popping them dozens and dozens per second.
- Gemcraft — Gemcraft is an interesting start-up on the genre, which incorporates multiple mazes, a RPG-like leveling system, and towers that you can equip with gems on the fly to change their abilities. The graphics aren’t the best, and some of the levels are devilishly hard, but it’s a great, solid game all around.
- Vector TD 2 — As its name suggests, Vector TD’s look is in 2D line vectors, which have a colorful, unique look that’s hard to beat. The game is fast, furious and sometimes far too difficult, but I squeezed a few great drops of entertainment from it before I was through.
- Canyon Defense — Out of all these titles, Canyon Defense is probably the slowest and most broken, but for some reason, I couldn’t stop playing it for a period. It tries to differentiate itself by requiring you to fulfill “tasks” to unlock more powerful buildings, which plays into the strategy more than you’d think. Good graphics, but as I said, somewhat unbalanced (if you start pumping out the money stations, you’ll have more cash than you could ever use).